Keeping the Potomac: A 30 minute film produced by SOC Students for Maryland Public Television taught by Professor Mike English. It screened at the DC Environmental Film Festival (EFF) in March, 2017, and aired regionally on PBS in prime time in May as part of Chesapeake Week.
After Chesapeake Bay week, Keeping the Potomac was broadcasted nationally on PBS six times. It is the winner of the American Conservation Film Festival’s Student Film Award and is nominated for a TiVa award in November.
For Potomac Riverkeeper Brent Walls, “being a riverkeeper is not just a job it’s a way of life.” All life in the Potomac is threatened by the discharge from the New Page paper mill in Westernport, Maryland.
Every day, the Upper Potomac River Commission treatment plant discharges 21 million gallons of treated wastewater from the paper mill and sewage from the nearby towns which create a significant problem in the river. Fishing guide and retired fisheries biologist Ken Pavol says “when anglers see the effluent they wonder how in a modern day and age there can still be pollution like that?” The Maryland Department of the Environment has issued a permit to the treatment plant enabling them to exceed normal pollution limits as defined by the Clean Water Act. By invoking a special clause the river serves as a thermal mixing zone. “The public must become involved if change is to be made in the effluent,” says Ken Pavol.
This film is expected to gain the public awareness necessary to raise legal defense funds or create political action.
Tuesday, March 28 at 7 pm
Keeping the Potomac: The Politics of Water
This documentary—conceived, written, produced, shot, directed, and edited by students in Environmental & Wildlife Production (COMM 568)—will air during Maryland Public Television’s Chesapeake Bay Week in April. Keeping the Potomac examines efforts of three local river keepers to hold polluters accountable along the Potomac River watershed.
Created by Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath, Anthony Brunner, Doaa Nour, Sam Sheline, Raffi Paul, Sarah Liebman, Kent Wagner, Chelsea Greene and Xinyi Song, and by American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking, in association with Maryland Public Television.
Panel discussion, hosted by Professor Chris Palmer, follows screenings. Panelists include student filmmakers and Professor Mike English, who taught the Center for Environmental Filmmaking class where Keeping the Potomac was produced for Maryland Public Television.
Below: An animation title sequence for a project in Motion Graphics and Effects class (not to be used in the film, but as part of the campaign.)